Sense This



To say the past several months have been rough would be to tell a half-truth. No, it would be to tell a one-sixteenth truth. Or maybe there’s a fractional exponent in there somewhere, I can’t really tell. And while it could always be worse, it’s bad enough, thank you very much, and Murphy and his laws can kindly move along from our little abode.

But I won’t regale you with the trials and tribulations of the Telger household other than to share what appeared to be the perfect analogy for the last several months. Perhaps you can relate.

Recently, my husband was helping his mother clean some things out of her house. His father passed in January, and as is always the case with major life changes, there is much to be done. Legal issues, signature issues, making sure all the right people are paid or return the correct amount of money, subscriptions, insurances, taxes, major and minor possessions to distribute, account for, sell, or simply sort. Of course, regardless of the impetus, the sorting task always unearths things purchased with good intentions, if not good execution, and which eventually end up being things you’d rather get rid of than find a use for. A full plate rearranged is still a full plate, after all, and putting things back in the good intentions pile doesn’t make any progress.

There is, however, something I have come to call “generational junk.” A passing of good intentions from one generation to another. It started awhile back when my mom started cleaning out closets in an effort to leave us kids with less to sift through once she and Dad pass. “Maybe the kids would like to hang onto this.” “Maybe the kids have a use for this.” Once in a while, the answer is yes, but more often than not, it simply puts a crimp in our own efforts to downsize and not fill the crawl space to the brim with good intentions. If the goal is to have less for us to sift through, giving it to us now doesn’t really help the end goal, anyway. It’s also not a pleasant thing to hear your parents talk about or plan for when they are gone. Yes, we have copies of your documents. Yes, we know your wishes. No, we don’t want to talk about it anymore.

But back to that occasional “yes” item. Chris brought home a set of lights from this particular sorting session. Not just any lights, these were motion-sensing lights. Intriguing, no? Could we use such things? If so, where? We had recently redone our bedroom closet in an effort to eek out just that much more space from our humble abode. With the newly minted closet space all done, we had just one issue left: lighting.

If you have kids, you’re probably aware of that annoying impulse to always consider their needs first. Could one of them use the light more than we could? They both have loft beds to allow for more square footage in their rooms. Would one of them (or both, since there are two lights) like them under their loft where they read? But no, good sense took over, and we realized the lights would be better utilized in a place that is actually nearly fully dark rather than in spaces that both have lights in them already.

A requisite battery search ensued. While we can buy a pack of a gazillion batteries at Costco, we cannot buy a person to come home with us and keep track of those batteries, so it takes a while to track them down. I mean, why would they ever stay in the place they are supposed to be? I imagine they have nighttime parties with all the socks I’ve lost and giggle while they scurry to new hiding places as the sun breaks the horizon each morning.

Having eventually found the batteries and verified their size  – remember, Murphy has set up residence at our house for the last long while, so we try to be thorough before getting too excited about finding anything – it is time to install them and discussion begins. Perhaps directly above the inside of the door? Except I’ll always be looking for things (certainly not socks because they don’t live there anymore, apparently) in my own shadow. Hm … Maybe the side wall? Except the light is always going to be in our eyes when it turns on. Well, dang it! Why is putting in a light such an ordeal? We need light. It provides light. Problem solved, right?

Having finally come to an agreement, my hubby installed the fixture on his side just above the door. It works well enough. There is adequate light for me to see that none of my socks have crept into the drawer to repent. He installed the fixture on my side on the wall. Yes, it shines in my eyes, but should still get the job done, and I can see what is on my shelves even way in the back (no socks there, either). Mission accomplished. We set the lights to “sensor” and call it a job well done.

Later that night, I opened the closet to get some PJs, relishing reaching in and getting them from their designated PJ drawer. But I had to do so in the dark because the stinkin’ light didn’t turn on. Weird. I reached up to make sure it was on “sense,” which it was. I flipped the switch a couple of times in that foolhardy way we all do as if it didn’t understand the instructions the first time but would most certainly straighten up and fly right from now on. Then I shut the door and walked away.

Upon returning to our room, ready for bed, I noticed a glow coming from the closet. Instantly transported to my childhood bedroom, I remembered the fear that would rush through me when someone had been in the attic during the day and forgotten to extinguish the light when they left. While I was fairly certain no monsters lived in my current closet, the memory was strong. The outline of the door continued to grin at me like the cover photo of a horror flick on the Blockbuster shelves.

Curiosity took hold and booted fear to the curb. Why was the light on if the door was closed? I’d checked it, flicked it back and forth for good measure, even. Getting back up, I flipped on the overhead light and went to investigate. More nonsensical flipping of the switch, and I again set it back to “sensor” and shut the door. The light came on. Well, shit.

In the weeks since, I have often opened the door with hope, only to be met with disappointment. No light, no flicker, nada. At least until I close it again. And many are the nights I go to bed with glowing doorframes across from my tired eyes. Fairly status quo for our house of late. At this point, I assume the socks and batteries party in that closet, and I’m simply not invited. At least something is getting good use out of the lights.


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